Leeds United

Leeds United


Leeds United: Ex-Whites striker defends Qatar switch after ‘not good’ final season at Elland Road

Rodrigo Moreno looks deflated with a prominent Leeds United badge alongside him

Rodrigo left Leeds United following the club's relegation from the Premier League.

Former Leeds United forward Rodrigo has revealed he had options to remain in the Premier League following the club’s relegation at the end of last season.

Rodrigo became Leeds‘ club-record signing when he arrived from Valencia in a £26million deal in the summer of 2020, registering 28 goals and five assists in 97 appearances over three full seasons.

The ex-Spain international’s final year in Yorkshire proved to be his strongest with Rodrigo scoring 13 times in 31 Premier League games in the 2022/23 campaign, but his goals were unable to prevent Leeds losing their top-flight status.

READ MORE: Liverpool, Newcastle lead charge with five Leeds stars wanted by Premier League giants and bidding war expected

Rodrigo joined Qatar’s Al-Rayyan on a three-year deal last July and has excelled in his new surroundings, registering five goals and four assists in 10 appearances so far.

Speaking to Spanish publication Marca, Rodrigo – set to turn 33 next month – has explained that his move to Qatar was a “family decision” as he enters the autumn of his professional career, admitting he found himself being worn down by the demands of elite football.

And he revealed that he did have potential opportunities to stay in the Premier League, but received no firm offers.

Rodrigo admits final season at Leeds was ‘not good’

He said: “They are personal decisions that must be respected. The option arose and I wanted to live this experience.

“Qatar has surprised me for the better. I am liking the level of the league and the country’s project is medium-to-long term.

“Everyone is free [to make their own decisions]. Collectively, last year was not good at Leeds, although individually I did well.

“Elite football wears you down a lot, physically and mentally. I’m going to be 33 and time is passing. [My career is] coming to an end and it was a family decision.

“There were options – also to stay in England – but nothing concrete. They asked a lot, but without real contacts.”

Rodrigo enjoyed the most productive years of his career at Valencia, where he scored the decisive goal against Barcelona to clinch the Copa del Rey in 2019.

Asked if he would consider a return to Valencia, he said: “You can never say anything firm in football, because it takes a lot of twists and turns.

“But right now I’m only thinking about completing the seasons I have signed here. We’ll see what happens in three years’ time.

“I came to Qatar to honour my contract, not to stay for six months, try it out and leave. I’ve always liked to honour my contracts.”

Asked if he was tempted by the riches on offer in Saudi Arabia, where a number of elite players have headed after leaving Europe, he said: “No, I’m just focused on Qatar.

“I’m not 100 per cent sure [what I intend to do after retirement]. I’d like to stay involved in football, but I’m not sure what I want to do.

“Time will clarify everything. I still have some time to think.”

DON’T MISS: Leeds United: Gifted winger among key stars to be offered new contracts as Farke’s Premier League plans revealed